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The Benefits of Chocolate for the Body, Mind and Soul

As we head towards the holidays (or as I like to call it, sweets season) there is temptation everywhere for overindulgence. Before you dive headfirst into the Skittles and Twizzlers, consider chocolate as an occasional treat. Ghirardelli has traced chocolate back more than 4,000 years to the culture of the Mayas in Central and South America.

It was introduced to Europe in the 1500s but reinvented by European chocolatiers as a sweet confection. In the 1800s, it was re-introduced to Americans and remains a favorite snack and dessert. Though chocolate is usually high in fat and calories it does have some healthful benefits for your mind, body and as some might contend, your soul.
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Yoga Shown to Improve Happiness

Yoga is such a great activity. It is relaxing, improves your flexibility, improves your mind-body connection and certain yoga poses can even improve your strength. Overall, yoga is a fantastic compliment to your other fitness activities, but researchers have found a new benefit to regular yoga sessions: happiness!

That’s right, the regular practice of yoga has been shown to actually improve mood better than walking. We’ve already reported that exercise may be as effective as anti-depressants, but this new research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine actually shows an association between yoga postures, increased mood and decreased anxiety. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) compared the neurotransmitter brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels of those doing yoga with those of participants who spent time walking. Low GABA levels are associated with depression and other anxiety disorders.
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Minimal Physical Activity Necessary to Improve Mental Health

Just as we are slowing down from all the activity and excitement of the holiday season and entering the winter months when people often experience a situational mood depression and are tempted to hibernate, the New York Times is talking about research on the minimum amount of physical activity necessary to prevent psychological distress.vacuum

More than 19,000 Scottish citizens were included in this study, utilizing Scottish Health Surveys and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). The researchers took into account participants’ differences in age, gender, social economic status, marital status, BMI, long-term illness, and smoking when compiling the results. It is not surprising that they found that daily physical activity was correlated with a lower risk of psychological distress. Activities noted as physical exercise included athletics, walking, gardening, and housework. Although even daily vacuuming and dusting can improve your mental health (and your physical environment), researchers did report less risk of psychological distress for those participating in athletics.
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Heart Attack Risk Raised by Repressing Anger

There are many foods that are bad for your heart health. But your emotional health can play a role as well. In a new Swedish study, men who tend to bottle up their anger about being unfairly treated in their place of employment have double the risk of a heart attack.stress businessman

Researchers from Stockholm looked at 2,755 male employees who had not had a heart attack before the study began.

The men were asked which coping methods they used. They were asked if they dealt with problems head-on, or if they didn’t say anything and just walked away from conflict. Also, the researchers asked if they developed symptoms such as headache or stomach ache or got into arguments at home.
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Exercise Makes You Less Anxious and Reduces Stress

exerciseIs there anything negative to say about exercise?

According to a recent article in The New York Times, exercise not just enhances mood and reduces anxiety but scientists are on the groundbreaking cusp of understanding the physiological processes that enable you to feel that amazing workout high after a long run or trek on the treadmill.

We have long known that exercise enables the growth of new brain cells. But at an October meeting for the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago, researchers from Princeton University revealed a startling revelation: In response to exercise, brains are calmer and more able to respond to stressful stimuli than brains that have not been exposed to regular exercise.


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